Kannur salutes, sheds tear for Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

Choking Pinarayi fails to complete speech; thousands witness Kodiyeri’s last journey
Police giving gun salute to senior CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at Payyambalam in Kannur on Monday | E Gokul
Police giving gun salute to senior CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at Payyambalam in Kannur on Monday | E Gokul

KANNUR: It looked like the saddest walk of his life. Even as party supporters shouted slogans at the top of their voice from both sides of the road leading to Payyambalam beach, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan walked ahead as if in a daze, unmindful of the frenzy and trying hard to control the emotions. The thought that he would be witnessing the final moments of his trusted comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan within a few minutes might have weighed his mind down.

Pinarayi was a tired man by evening when he took the mike to speak during the condolence meeting at Payyambalam on Monday. He broke down midway through the speech at the meeting. “I don’t know how to begin. The words might get broken. The sentences might be incomplete. Never in my dreams had I thought that I would have to give him such a farewell.”

In his speech, Pinarayi expressed the party’s gratitude towards the doctors who treated Kodiyeri and the media that covered his last journey in a befitting manner. “The loss of Kodiyeri cannot be filled. Still, the party will collectively work hard to fill the vacuum created by this death,” he said. He paused for a few seconds and as the crowds waited to hear more from the leader, ended it abruptly saying “concluding it” and walked back to his seat. It was only on Sunday that Pinirayi had said of his trusted lieutenant that Kodiyeri was not “like a brother” to him, but “a brother” himself.

Earlier, the loss of the mass leader was writ large on the faces of all people, as they lined the streets and climbed on trees, walls, pillars and wherever they could to see him one last time. The final journey was a real show of love of the people towards the smiling leader. People from several parts of the state reached Payyambalam to witness the final moments of Kodiyeri.

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Speaker A N Shamseer, writer T Padmanabhan, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, politburo members Prakash Karat, G Ramakrishnan, M A Baby, A Vijayaraghavan, party state secretary M V Govindan, senior leaders, ministers and a host of other dignitaries paid their final respects to the leader at CPM district office Azheekodan Mandiram.

The red volunteers found it tough to control the crowd coming to pay their homage. The ambulance carrying the body of Kodiyeri started at 2.10pm from Azheekodan Mandiram. Pinarayi, Govindan, Baby, Vijayaraghavan district secretary MV Jayarajan, CPM central committee members Sreemathi and Shailaja walked ahead of the thousands of workers and supporters who followed the ambulance. It took around one hour to cover the two kilometres to the Payyambalam beach.

Once the mortal remains reached Payyambalam, Pinarayi, Yechury and Govindan along with others carried Kodiyeri on their shoulders to the pyre. As the body was placed on the pyre, the official police gun salute was given. Following this, Kodiyeri’s sons Binoy and Bineesh lighted the pyre amid deafening sloganeering by party workers.

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